Members Share What They Do

Twenty-six members joined Chicago AARP Northside Community Group on Zoom for their October 2020 meeting and participated in a SOLE (Self Organizing Learning Environment). This SOLE sought to determine how participants can best use their time between this meeting and Election Day, November 3, to positively make their world a better place. Nine members share in How I’m Making My World a Better Place video above.

In the video, three members mention websites they will use to help them choose their candidates. One member told how he already voted. Two participants tell how they use social media and one member, questioning her own sanity, told of how she will again train to be an election judge at the polls this November 3.

A SOLE or self-organizing learning environment developed by the Indian educational theorist, Sugata Mitra attempts to meaningfully involve participants by: posing a question; breaking participants into groups of four or five individuals; and challenging them to answer the question using their own experience as well as Internet or other resources they have at their finger tips. In this particular SOLE, groups had fifteen minutes to answer the question. After the breakout session, all came back together and shared their findings which are summarized in the above video.

Dan O’Donnell retired from Chicago Public Schools where he taught at the now closed Montefiore Special School from 1970 – 1980 and then again from 1997 -2007. From 1980 to 1997 he sold life insurance as an Agent for the Mass Mutual and broker for many other companies. Presently Dan spends his days writing and developing online learning opportunities. During his sixteen-year hiatus from teaching he remained in contact with Montefiore serving on the PTA and Local School Council as the community representative. 

To the total chagrin of his sister Marianne, a stay-at-home mother of four, Dan’s proudest recognition came when Montefiore Principal Bernie Carlin nominated him as the Parent of the Year. Dan, as Marianne would tell you, never spent one night up with a colicky child… 

Dan’s work experience taught him to respect and learn from people whose life’s paths differed from his own. Dan believes, that despite often feeling like an outsider, he belongs right where he finds himself, and that all that is gift. 

Finding Your Activation Button

Twenty-eight days to Election Day 2020, and I wonder, is it too late to make a difference in my world, a world I personally would characterized as on the brink of a new day. What that new day will look like depends on my willingness to act. I believe I must act today, because this is the only time I have. I can’t do anything about the time I’ve wasted in the past, nor can I rely upon a tomorrow that I may or may not be given.

Today, I can look at my voting ballot by going to Ballot Ready.org where “Every Candidate and Referendum, Explained” to help me vote wisely as a citizen of the United States and to voice my opinion on issues facing my community. The first thing I am asked is to pledge to vote. That’s easy. Yes, I pledge to vote. Then I am asked to identify what I care about: the economy; education; healthcare; other. I personally press all four choosing to add “equality for all” in the “other” box. Once I promise to vote, I am taken to a page where I can check to make sure I’m registered, research my ballot by getting information on every candidate and referendum on my ballot.

So, I chose to add “equality for all” in the other box not just because of the very evident inequality my Black sisters and brothers experience and have experienced their entire lives, but also for the not so evident inequality women experience and have experienced their entire lives. If you are a woman, you know what I am talking about. If you are wondering, please view A political party for women’s equality an entertaining and informative 2016 TED Talk by Sandi Toksvig.

Today, AARP Northside Community Group will spend their meeting reviewing hands on BallottReady.org. Please join us. If you are familiar with the process, you can help someone who is not. Depending on the makeup of the group gathered, we will spend our time discussing referenda and candidates or just helping individuals through the steps of preparing themselves to vote responsibly using ballot ready.org.

Dan O’Donnell retired from Chicago Public Schools where he taught at the now closed Montefiore Special School from 1970 – 1980 and then again from 1997 -2007. From 1980 to 1997 he sold life insurance as an Agent for the Mass Mutual and broker for many other companies. Presently Dan spends his days writing and developing online learning opportunities. During his sixteen-year hiatus from teaching he remained in contact with Montefiore serving on the PTA and Local School Council as the community representative. 

To the total chagrin of his sister Marianne, a stay-at-home mother of four, Dan’s proudest recognition came when Montefiore Principal Bernie Carlin nominated him as the Parent of the Year. Dan, as Marianne would tell you, never spent one night up with a colicky child… 

Dan’s work experience taught him to respect and learn from people whose life’s paths differed from his own. Dan believes, that despite often feeling like an outsider, he belongs right where he finds himself, and that all that is gift.